An Evening of Musical Healing with Julian Marley
Photos and article by Danny Savage
Sunday, May 12th marked Julian Marley and the Uprising’s stop in Wilmington, Delaware at the historical Queen Theater. The weather was unseasonably cold and the relentless rain caused streets to flood, making the journey to the show a difficult one. But those of who braved Mother Nature’s wrath were treated to an evening of rebel music and continuous awareness.
The Mother’s Day show marked the first time Julian has performed in Wilmington since 2004. Hitting the ground running in support of his “As I Am” tour, Julian blessed us with songs from each of his albums, while also performing some of his father’s core songs. For those who don’t know,
Wilmington holds a lot of Marley family history. Not only did Marley matriarch Cedella Booker Marley call Wilmington home for a spell, but Bob himself also worked in the city from time to time running a forklift at an automobile factory. Julian’s older brother and mentor, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, was also born in Wilmington in the spring of 1972. Since then, Ibis and Genovia Pitts have formed a lovely Bob Marley festival called “People’s Fest”. Unfortunately, in recent years the beautiful soul that was Ibis passed away and Genovia has since moved to Northern California.
But this didn’t stop the city of Wilmington from relighting the torch and keeping the positive vibes going. The city has seen better days — plagued like much of our cities by crime, poverty, gangs and drugs. It is a true blessing that Julian chose to make a stop and lift up the people of Wilmington.
The entire evening was packed with top-shelf music. New York City’s own “Subatomic Sound System” kicked off the night with a beautiful and powerful set. They are truly one of a kind. Julian and his band came on at just before 10 p.m. to an excited crowd of fans. Julian Marley seems to be the most well-traveled of the family, playing shows at the far reaches of earth.
Julian, native to England, is what I like to refer to as a true musician. Though a reggae artist, Julian, like his brother Stephen, doesn’t stay in one realm of music. His albums are often mixtures of different genres, such as blues and jazz. Julian himself plays most instruments and often can be hear playing more than guitar on his albums.
Being a huge fan myself, I was surprised that he hadn’t put out an album in 10 years. But when I first heard the album “As I Am”, I knew why. The man is a perfectionist. This is evident throughout his latest album. Not only is the production solid, but the songs are lyrically beautiful. Julian really took his time to paint each song as a masterpiece of its own. Touching on subjects of equality, legalization and personal redemption, “As I Am” has something for everyone.
Julian Marley isn’t just a musician. He is a key part in the Ghetto Youth Foundation, which focuses on uplifting efforts in Jamaica and Africa. Julian is also at the forefront of the cannabis movement. Julian’s own JuJu Royal brand offers countless products for medicinal healing. He just launched a CBD olive oil, which I cannot wait to get my hands on. Julian is a man of the earth; he strongly believes in the healing of the nations. He is noted to say that he thinks herb should be free for everyone. That it is something that could solve many problems. I totally agree. Julian is also very forward-thinking when it comes to climate change and saving this beautiful planet we call home.
Sunday evening’s performance is one that will be with me for some time. It has been several years since I have seen him perform. But it was something about that night. It was as though he was performing for each and every person individually at the Queen. There are very few artists out there that can make you feel totally welcomed. Julian definitely has that quality.
I was also in rare form that night, often putting down my camera to just observe. I called out names of songs (which I never do) and he indulged me by playing some of them. The smile on his face lit up the room when I called out a song from his new album “Broken Sails”. This song hits me close to home. Anyone who has ever dealt with mental illness can relate to this song. Having a father who is battling cancer, I often feel like a landlocked sailor longing for the open seas. When I first heard the lyrics to “Broken Sail,” it instantly made me reflect. It showed me that we are all human, that we all face countless obstacles in life. That we all feel like we at times are “far away from shore”. But with the powers of love, everything will be alright.
Throughout the night, Julian and the Uprising Band blessed us with tracks spanning his entire career, including songs from the new album like dance-heavy, “Baby Lotion and title track “As I Am”. He also played lesser-known tunes like my personal favorite “I Never” from the beautifully crafted “Time and Place” album. Julian played a number of his father Bob’s songs. Sticking to his early albums, Julian played “Concrete Jungle”, “Rebel Music and encored with “Lively up Yourself”.
Julian treated the audience to an electrified version of “Exodus”, putting his own touches on the anthem. All night, the band got everyone in the venue to move. This tour has the potential to be huge and memorable for everyone. Please keep an eye out for a show coming to your area. We Philly/Delaware fans can only hope that Julian returns soon. Until then, his message of love and unity will stay with us. We will help to carry the torch and open new minds to his music.
We at Island Stage Magazine are always humbled to be able to cover these performances. We are blessed to be able to document your musical history. We are driven to hold true to the events and to help tell a story though photography and Journalism. We would like to thank Julian Marley personally and his wonderful team in allowing us to cover this and many other events. It is a true honor. Love and Guidance.